Tarsus runs new 'Don’t Freak Out. Get Checked Out' eyelid disease campaign as FDA approval beckons

Tarsus is gearing up for a potential FDA green light of its experimental drug to treat a common but little-known eyelid inflammation disease and is wasting no time to boost awareness around the disorder.

While the condition, known as Demodex blepharitis, is relatively unknown outside of certain medical circles, it is a common disease that causes eyelid margin inflammation, redness and irritation.

The condition is caused by an infestation of Demodex mites, and Tarsus reckons it impacts as many as 25 million Americans.

There are no specific treatments for the condition, with tea tree oil and lid wipes the most used tools, though poor ones at that, Tarsus said in a press release.

The biotech is hoping to change that, however. Last fall, Tarsus sent off its experimental drug TP-03 (lotilaner ophthalmic solution, 0.25%) to the FDA for review and now has a PDUFA date of Aug. 25 this year.

TP-03 is an eye drop formulation of lotilaner, an anti-parasitic drug used in pets to treat mange and works by paralyzing and eradicating Demodex mites.

As it awaits commercialization, the biotech is already launching a new education campaign: “Don’t Freak Out. Get Checked Out” which seeks to get patients who may have Demodex blepharitis to visit their eye doctor for an eyelid check and comes amid Healthy Vision Month this May.

The central tenet of the campaign—to not be freaked out—comes as patients with Demodex blepharitis commonly worry about the appearance of the disease, which can cause red and crusty-looking eyelids.

A new educational website runs in tandem with the campaign, including a quiz, patient testimonials and information about joining a Demodex blepharitis community and social media channels. All of which is of course geared up to boost awareness and, Tarsus hopes, more diagnoses of the condition, which would lead doctors and patients to its drug, should it nab that approval later this year.  

“We know that many patients struggle with eyelid discomfort for years, and in many cases, are unaware of the potential root cause,” said Aziz Mottiwala, chief commercial officer of Tarsus, in a press release.

“This targeted campaign is designed to reach patients who may be suffering from Demodex blepharitis to provide them with the necessary resources to help them more effectively understand the disease and arm them with useful information they can discuss with their eye care providers.”

This isn’t the biotech’s first marketing rodeo as just last September Tarsus ran the “Look at the Lids” disease awareness campaign, which was set up to encourage eye care professionals to screen for Demodex blepharitis in all eye care patients to find and diagnose the disease sooner.